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    Requiem for Ron

    By Martin Blaney | January 23, 2010

    Friends and colleagues gathered at the Arsenal-Kino at Potsdamer Platz last Sunday (January 24) to remember the life and work of Ron Holloway.

    The idea for the Requiem for Ronald Holloway had come from two close friends of Ron and Dorothea Holloway, Andreas Dobers, board member of X Verleih AG, and Wilhelm Faber, special programme coordinator at the Berlinale. A programme of speakers and films featured an interview conducted by the US film journalist James Ulmer with Ron and Dorothea at the Berlinale (http://www.cinemawithoutborders.com/news/140/ARTICLE/1806/2009-03-14.html), extracts from the documentary Die Mauertänzerin, and a screening of one of the Erotic Tales, the Oscar-nominated The Dutch Master by Susan Seidelman..

    In an opening speech, Berlinale director Dieter Kosslick recalled that “when one saw him, it appeared that Ron Holloway was very reserved. One often had the feeling that he was shy. Perhaps he was both reserved and shy, but he was also ambitious and determined: he just wanted to pull his magazine out of the bag!”

    Kosslick spoke of Ron as “a promoter worldwide for German cinema” and regretted the fact that he would not be here to attend the 60th edition of the Berlinale. “You would be certain to have liked it – 90 German films* are going to be shown – who would have thought that a few years ago?”

    Meanwhile, Volker Hassemer, former Senator for Cultural Affairs in Berlin, spoke of the „sparkle“ in Ron’s eyes and his „American-German mumbling“. „That wasn’t carelessness on his part, the way he spoke was a sign of tenderness.“

    And, of course, Dr. Hassemer could not finish his reminiscence without mentioning KINO: „it was always there and he always had enough. He gave it away… and yet it was still there!“

    Hanns Georg Rodek, one of the film critics at the German national daily newspaper Die Welt, recalled how in the early 1980s as a student, he had travelled to Amerika Haus in Stuttgart and become acquainted for the first time with the trade magazine Variety – and Ron’s film reviews. “Ron wrote about German films in a way that I had actually not seen in German newspapers – very down to earth, very understandable and not so oriented to the feuilleton. This may have been the moment when I thought: ‘that’s something you could perhaps also do’.“

    This was then followed by extracts from the documentary Die Mauertänzerin featuring footage by Ron and Dorothea shot in 1989 of the fall of the Berlin Wall and its aftermath, and new material produced by the Berlin producers Mario and Carsten Schulz with them last year.

    A rough cut of the film had been presented in a sneak preview at the beginning of November last year. Ron had been able to come from his hospital bed to attend, and Dorothea read out a text he had written the next day congratulating the producers on their work.

    For film director/screenwriter Günter Reisch, Ron was the „modest, quiet American“ he spoke of warmly as a true friend who had supported him and his colleagues in the former GDR over many years. He recalled Ron’s championing of the work of Konrad Wolf and the fact that they had often seen one another at film festivals, once being together at a festival in faraway Baghdad. „We have lost an irreplaceable authority on East European cinema,“ Reisch added.

    Regina Ziegler, producer of the Erotic Tales collection, and Judy Tossell, who had worked with Ron on several of the films, shared their memories of Ron before the screening of The Dutch Master rounded off the event.

    „He was the captain of the Erotic Tales,“ Regina Ziegler said about Ron’s role as creative consultant. „I asked him if, as a former priest, he would accompany the Tales. I will never forget his eyes. They shone and sparkled and he said: Of course! In a week we had Bob Rafelson on board and he then phoned all of the directors he knew.“

    She added that it was thanks to Ron that this collection had been shown at no less than 487 film festivals around the globe!

    Working with Ron on the Erotic Tales rewarded Judy Tossell with „some very formative experiences“, as she put it: whether it was attending a screening of Mani Kaul’s contribution to the Erotic Tales in Bombay – with riots in front of the cinema against the film – or trying to (vainly) persuade Aki Kaurismaki over a long drinking session in Karlovy Vary into the early hours to join the roster of directors on the project.

    „He was also the first film critic I got to know,“ she recalled. „He approached films with an openness and lack of any trace of cynicism. He always open to all people wherever we were. And when I see his smile, I always think that Ron knows something that none of us know. He has some kind of secret that he’s not sharing with us…“

    * Note: One of the 90 German films screening at this year’s Berlinale is the world premiere in the Forum of a feature debut by Tatjana Turanskyj, The Drifter (Eine flexible Frau) – with Dorothea Moritz in the cast!

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